Olympus EM1 ii and Nikon D850 in the studio.... Apples vs Oranges?

Just over a month ago, the awesome guys at Olympus Australia sent me one of their pro kits to have a play with (theres a post already about my initial thoughts), as they had heard I was looking for a lighter weight option for my day to day work, specifically my wedding work.

Now its not wedding season, and so I didn’t have the opportunity to take the gear out on any paying jobs, in actual fact, there is no way that I would use any equipment on a job unless I was completely familiar with it, to do otherwise wold be disrespectful to my client.

Instead, I just used the camera on my day to day personal work, and I put out a bit of a model call to get some faces into the studio to test it out in that environment.

As far as the day to day shooting was concerned, my initial thoughts held up. The AF is sensational, the max burst of 18fps was brilliant (I tested it out at my daughters Taekwondo class), and the Pro Capture mode continued to bring the goods. So as far as all that was concerned, I really can’t fault the potential of the equipment for my wedding work. But the question remained, how would the images stack up against the beast that is the Nikon D850? The D850 is my current workhorse, and it does sensationally at weddings and equally as awesome in the studio. In reality, I know this is an apples vs oranges comparison. You can’t really compare a 20mp m4/3 sensor against a 45 mp full frame… its just not fair. With that in mind, I set my expectations low. I knew straight off, that in a pixel peeping shallow depth of field battle, it would be like bringing a knife to a gun fight, but there is more to professional photography than pure pixels. For me at least, I need to enjoy the photography that I do. I don’t do any work that I don’t enjoy. I love the process as much as anything else.

So, with a handful of subjects lined up,. I headed into the studio and started shooting.

Each session I shot predominantly with the EM1, deciding I wanted to get as comfortable with it as I could.

My first subject was Kelsea, and we just did a super simple laid back session. Kelsea isn’t a model, she’s a family friend and so the session was just totally chilled and relaxed, which was what I needed to get comfortable with the camera.

I shot this session with two different set ups. The EM1ii with the 25 1.2 pro and my D850 with the 58 1.4… I wanted as fair a match up as possible. A small disclaimer here…. anyone that has shot the 58 1.4 knows that it is a unique beast, and definitely not a sharp lens, especially wide open. It does however have a very unique character that many of us love it for… for me it is a go to for beautiful bride portraits…. It is not a lens that I would use in the studio often.

As far as the experience of shooting it was concerned, I have no complaints. I am a big fan of B&W, so it was nice to be able to shoot in mono, and see the image in the EVF as I composed, and also for the immediate feedback of the preview popping up after I took my shot. I really prefer not to chimp my LCD on my D850, as it interrupts the flow of the session, but the preview popping up was nice to get some immediate feedback. It did slow my shooting down by just a touch, but it tended to make me more deliberate, and instead of firing of 4-5 shots and having a quick chimp, just to discover something was off, it meant I could adjust immediately for my next shot.

So here are a couple of shots from that session, I don’t think the D850 shot sticks out, I used it more at the end of the session, when we are both getting more relaxed with the shoot.

Tasmanian Portrait Photographer-6111065-2.jpg
Tasmanian Portrait Photographer-.jpg
Tasmanian Portrait Photographer-6111065.jpg

I shot a few more sessions with both cameras, and really for the most part, there is no reason I couldn’t do client shoots and deliver more than satisfactory images with the Olympus kit. There were facets that I really enjoyed, such as live view and the quick preview pop up.

Here are a selection of images shot on the Olympus over the next few sessions. Some of these are JPG straight out of the cameras… I’m not going to tell you which is from which camera and which is SOOC. If you can’t tell for sure, then the answer is apparent.

Tasmanian Portrait Photographer-4574.jpg
Tasmanian Portrait Photographer-6161495.jpg
Tasmanian Portrait Photographer-4575.jpg
Tasmanian Portrait Photographer-6081054.jpg
Tasmanian Portrait Photographer-6060910.jpg
Tasmanian Portrait Photographer-6060921.jpg

Now this wasn’t so much a shoot out, but just me playing in the studio to get a feel for the equip[ment and see whether it would do the job.

So would it? Well, for 90% of the time, yes. I would have liked to have access to the 45 1.2 pro to dig a bit deeper, as my favourite lens for portraits currently is the Nikon 105 1.4. and that brings me to this shot. I had nothing that I could shoot from Olympus to try and match to this, the 2.8 zooms just didn’t have a hope, but this is one reason why I am not getting rid of my Nikons just yet. This is the D850 and 105 1.4 in a nutshell… wide open, super sharp, super creamy OOF rendering and well. But as I said, this was an apples vs oranges comparison. to expect a 20 mp m4/3 to compete with this would not be realistic. Its horses for courses. I could use the Olympus in the studio, and I know that it would also do 99% of what I need at weddings, but for now, I still need something that can deliver this…

I’m not going to hide it with this one.. this is the D850 with 105 1.4… I’m sorry, but I got nothing on this level out of the Olympus… so for now, the Nikons stay in my kit.

I’m not going to hide it with this one.. this is the D850 with 105 1.4… I’m sorry, but I got nothing on this level out of the Olympus… so for now, the Nikons stay in my kit.

and a 100% crop

Tasmanian Portrait Photographer--4.jpg

JUST A QUICK NOTE… Last week I picked up my own EM1 and the 45 1.2 pro… I will be doing a post to talk about that later, but I will just say this. I wish I had had it when I was doing these sessions… I think it would have held its own.